Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra 

Vajra Sutra (Diamond Sutra) 

Detailed Exposition by Living Buddha Lian-Sheng, Grandmaster Sheng-yen Lu

Translated into English by True Buddha School Vajra Sutra Translation Team

Discourse 18, 25 September 2021 - Chapter Six—The Right Faith is Extremely Rare (continued)

Six—The Right Faith is Extremely Rare

Subhuti asked the Buddha: “World-honored One, if sentient beings hear words and phrases of this teaching, will they truly believe in them?”

The Buddha told Subhuti: “Do not speak this way. During the five hundred years after Tathagata’s parinirvana, there will be precept-holding people who are blessed, they will have faith in this truth and regard it as reality. Know that these people have planted good seeds not only with one buddha, two buddhas, or three, four, five buddhas, but countless buddhas. When they hear these statements, immediately they give rise to pure faith. 

“Subhuti, even if only for a moment, they will be seen and known by the Tathagata and they will obtain immeasurable blessings and merits. Why? Because they do not have views of self, others, sentient beings and lifespan.

“No view of dharma, and no view of non-dharma. Why? Because if sentient beings hold onto phenomena, then they are grasping at self, others, sentient beings and lifespan.

“If they hold the view of dharma, then they are attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan. If they hold the view of non-dharma, then all the same they are also attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan. Why? Because one should not uphold dharma and one should also not uphold non-dharma.

“This profundity is often spoken by the Tathagata: ‘Bhikkus and all of you, know that my dharma teaching is like a raft. Even the dharma should be abandoned, let alone the non-dharma.’”

Today we will expound on the Vajra Sutra once more. 

…Why? Because one should not uphold dharma and one should also not uphold non-dharma.

As I have said before, one should not hold the view of dharma and should not hold the view of non-dharma either. The key point is in the “hold.” As soon as you “hold” them, then that would constitute form, phenomenon or view. You should not hold the view of non-dharma. Although non-dharma is a non-phenomena, it would become phenomena as soon as you “hold” it. The Vajra Sutra is talking about non-phenomena; that you should not hold onto anything. When you truly embrace this meaning, as the Tathagata often says: 

“‘Bhikkus and all of you, know that my dharma teaching is like a raft. Even the dharma should be abandoned, let alone the non-dharma.’”

My dharma teaching is like a raft. Even the dharma should be abandoned, let alone the non-dharma. This is a key point. I often say spiritual cultivation is like riding on a ferry. When you’re being delivered, you’re being taken onto a ferry that is crossing to the other shore. The boat has arrived, and you have gotten off the boat. Do you still want to hold onto the boat and say, “I don’t want to get off the boat; I want this boat.” What use is the boat to you? The boat is going back. You have arrived at the other shore. If you are still holding onto the boat, that would be a phenomenon of “hold.” 

When Sakyamuni Buddha gave dharma teaching, he said, “In spiritual cultivation, grasp on one point. Once you have the attainment, that point should be forsaken or thrown away.” If you have arrived at the other shore, what use is the dharma? We cultivate spiritually in this lifetime and eventually we will go to the pureland. Once you’re already in the pureland, do you still practice the dharma that brought you there? There’s no need, you are already in the pureland! You can throw away the dharma that brought you there. The dharma is like a raft. You rode the raft and have arrived at the other shore; do you still need the raft? No. You don’t need the raft anymore; you don’t need to ride anymore. You don’t need to go back! Once you get to the pureland, it is non-returning. You don’t need the dharma anymore. The dharma that you practiced to go to the pureland has no more use, let alone the non-dharma! 

What is non-dharma? The non-dharma being mentioned here refers to things such as fengshui consultation. That is non-dharma because it will not allow you to be reborn in the pureland. Likewise, purifications and helping others to eradicate calamities; fortune-telling, even if it’s accurate, does not result in a rebirth in the pureland. Mastery of numerology and astrology cannot give you a rebirth in the pureland either. These are all non-dharma, as emphasized by Sakyamuni Buddha. They are not the true buddhadharma! 

Purple Star Astrology, the study of destiny and all sorts of divination, including calculations using date and time of birth, facial features and physiognomy are not [useful] for rebirth in the pureland. Those are all just used for worldly conveniences; they’re all non-dharma. Even the dharma that allow you to have the attainment to be reborn in the pureland must be abandoned, let alone the non-dharma! Can you be reborn through fengshui? No, that’s impossible! That’s not the kind of dharma that would let you be reborn in the pureland. 

At the least, when you pass away, the Pureland Trinity (Amitabha Buddha, Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta) should appear right in front of you and hand you a lotus throne for you to go to the pureland. Only this is the right dharma of the pureland sect. For tantric practitioners, we must make our own bodies emit light, and with that light you’d go directly to the pureland; you’ll transform into a rainbow light and enter the Ocean of Light. The child light will merge with the mother light. Those are the tantric practices. Only these things are considered the right dharma.

Other things such as the Five Arts of Chinese Metaphysics (geomancy, medicine, destiny, divination and physiognomy), divinations of the King Wen and Eight Trigrams, the meaning of the upper and lower trigrams, reading and calculating one’s future destiny etc., all of which all I know, will not get you to the pureland. Those are all non-dharma. You might know how to do the Purple Star Astrology but that’s non-dharma. You might understand feng shui, its mountain and water (convex and concave landform), enclave and its geomancy, dragon meridian and gathering energy, auspicious directions, etc. Yet, this has no effect in your rebirth in the pureland. Those things only allow your offspring to do well in life, to become a king or leader, to be blessed with great fortune, to have fame and name. These things are valuable in the saha world but not in the pureland, for those are all non-dharma. 

So, in your spiritual cultivation you may think, how much money can I earn, right? You’d practice the dharma of Yellow Jambhala and obtain a spiritual response with him, you can go Jambhala or to the Four Heavenly Kings. Yet, that’s just a convenience dharma. When you get to the realm of the Four Heavenly Kings, you still must cultivate spiritually. Even if you go to the heavens, you still need to continue cultivating. What Sakyamuni Buddha said in this excerpt I must explain clearly; what dharma is and what non-dharma is. 

Sakyamuni Buddha said that all things other than buddhadharma should be forsaken, yet even the buddhadharma should be forsaken too. When you have attainment and reached the pureland, why do you still need the dharma that brought you there? There’s no longer a need. Do you understand this excerpt? I hope I have explained it clearly.

Learning buddhism is not learning fengshui or reading facial features. I also know that in face reading, the eyebrows signify brothers and sisters, the eyes for wisdom, the ears for lifespan, the chin for servants and followers, the tip of the nose for one’s wealth, the mouth for luck and the tails of the eye for romances. These are face readings. [Grandmaster is pointing at the various parts of his face] This is the Hall of Affection, the Hall of Siblings, the Hall of Wisdom, the Hall of Wealth, the Hall of Followers, the Hall of Lucks, the Hall of Romances, etc. Let’s pull down the ears to become longer so that they become long life ears. The ears of all buddhas and bodhisattvas are long. Their ears touch the shoulders like this [Grandmaster jokingly tries to get his ears to touch his shoulders]. These are all non-dharma, not the right dharma. They will not allow a rebirth in the pureland. 

It doesn’t matter how good your medical skills are, how well you practice medicine, how great of a doctor or how you have helped so many people; these things are only a foundation to help you rise to heaven. If you help many people, you go to heaven but not the buddhaland because you don’t have the affinity to practice buddhism; you do not practice the right dharma. But you can rely on the non-dharma to save sentient beings. You can go to the heavens, but you cannot go to the buddhaland because those are non-dharma. Hence, listen carefully on the difference between the right dharma and non-dharma. Now you should understand!

Don’t think that fortune-telling and astrology are buddhadharma. The ability to predict the weather, to call on the winds and the rains, do you think that’s buddhadharma? Or commanding the celestial generals and troops; chanting “commanding the celestial generals and troops to execute the order immediately,” “commanding the celestial gods to execute the order immediately.” You may be able to command all the celestial commanders; but that’s not buddhadharma. 

According to Sakyamuni Buddha, they’re all deviant paths; they are not buddhadharma. Grandmaster can chant them too, “I command the celestial generals and soldiers to execute the order immediately.” Based on the god-on-duty and the current hour—zi chou yin mao chen si wu wei shen you xu hai [Chinese zodiac], you press the part of the fingers correspondingly and then you chant the mantra. The god-in-charge on that day and hour would descend to listen to your command, “I command you to do this. Listen and execute.” They will follow your command. Can these kinds of things let you to go to the pureland? No. At most, it can help you go to heavens and enjoy the heavenly blessings. 

You may think that you are very blessed, and you help many poor people in the hope to go to buddhaland. But no, you can only go to heaven. This is the difference between buddhism and other religions.

Hence, I stress this point: Chapter Six—The Right Faith is Extremely Rare. “Bhikkus, know that my dharma teaching is like a raft. Even the dharma should be abandoned, let alone the non-dharma.” I extrapolated this piece very clearly.

As a buddhist, we should have enough knowledge. Like today, in expounding the Vajra Sutra, if you have enough knowledge, you can discern and differentiate. If you don’t have enough knowledge, then you would be befuddled. You might think you can tell fortune, do divinations, or this and that [psychic power], you can foretell everything, but those things are useless. You still cannot go to the pureland. Those are not buddhadharma. You think that you have supernatural powers? Yet, you don’t have connections with divine power, instead you rely on all kinds of hideous spirits. What psychic power?! Only relying on ghosts! What a mess! Only if you can go to the pureland would it be the right dharma. The rest is just deviant dharma. Supernatural power is also aberrant.

Of course, if you have attainments, you will have such power naturally as side effects. But it’s not something to pursue! If you are obsessed with all those powers, then you’re dead! And it would be impossible for you to go to the pureland. What connection? It’s more like constipation! [Chinese homophone] When you are constipated, there’s no connection. [Grandmaster is joking]

That’s all for today. Om mani padme hum. 
Version 2021.10.24

Next discourse on the Vajra Sutra: Discourse 19, 26 September 2021 - Chapter Seven—Nothing Gained, Nothing Spoken

Previous discourse on the Vajra Sutra: 
Discourse 17, 19 September 2021 - Chapter Six—The Right Faith is Extremely Rare (continued)

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Full webcast of 2021.09.25 Avalokitesvara Group Practice (Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Redmond, USA) and dharma discourse with English interpretation: https://youtu.be/dlvZMPr31tc 

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